UFC confirms Khabib Nurmagomedov was offered fight with Tony Ferguson at UFC 217

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Behind all the Twitter sparring between Tony Ferguson and Khabib Nurmagomedov, the UFC tried to book the pair a fourth time.

In the latest edition of the UFC’s “Watch List” series, UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby reveals the promotion offered Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) a fight with Ferguson (22-3 MMA, 12-1 UFC) at UFC 217. When Nurmagomedov didn’t take the fight, Kevin Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) got the spot, but next week as UFC 216’s headliner in Las Vegas.

“Just to clear things up, a fight was offered to Nurmagomedov on Nov. 4 (at UFC 217), and at that point, we were trying to put cards together toward the end of the year,” UFC matchmaker Sean Shelby told UFC commentator Jon Anik. “I was informed that (Nurmagomedov) could not make that date, and he probably wouldn’t be able to fight until at least December, so that left Tony without a dance partner.”

It’s not clear why Nurmagomedov couldn’t accept the booking for the pay-per-view card at Madison Square Garden in New York City. His longtime manager Ali Abdelaziz did not respond to a request for comment.

Earlier this month, the undefeated fighter shifted gears after attacking Ferguson, humbly requesting the winner of the interim lightweight title bout.

Shelby indicated Lee got the golden opportunity because the UFC couldn’t wait for Nurmagomedov.

“We backed Tony up, and Kevin Lee was there,” Shelby said. “Look at his resume as of late. He’s a phenomenal fighter. He’s doing fantastic. Right now, I think he’s the hottest thing in the division.”

When the fight was made, Nurmagomedov and Ferguson traded accusations as to who was at fault for their fourth ill-fated booking. Ferguson said Nurmagomedov’s manager told the UFC that Nurmagomedov wasn’t well enough to fight, and Nurmagomedov claimed Ferguson wouldn’t accept the bout.

UFC President Dana White simply said Nurmagomedov was “not ready.”

But now, Lee will get the chance to upset the balance in the lightweight division. Now on a five-fight win streak, he’s due for the toughest step up in competition against Ferguson, who’s won his past nine bouts.

Potentially waiting for the winner is undisputed champ Conor McGregor, an opponent who guarantees a lucrative payday for the challenger.

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: News, UFC
Source: MMA Junkie

UFC interim title challenger Kevin Lee says Khabib b-tched out and doesn't want to fight

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos

How did UFC lightweight Kevin Lee end up fighting Tony Ferguson for the interim title at UFC 216?

According to Lee, the promotion called, and he said yes. That’s the short version.

As for how he got the opportunity over Khabib Nurmagomedov, there’s a different explanation – one less flattering to the undefeated contender.

“We can cut the (expletive) – (Nurmagomedov’s) just being a (expletive) about it,” Lee (16-2 MMA, 9-2 UFC) today told MMAjunkie Radio. “He just doesn’t want to fight. Bottom line, he doesn’t want to fight.

“He wants to hold on to that imaginary zero that he’s got.”

Nurmagomedov (24-0 MMA, 8-0 UFC) did appear to have the inside track on the next interim lightweight title shot. UFC President Dana White said a green light from the UFC Performance Institute would trigger a fourth attempted booking with Ferguson (23-3 MMA, 13-1 UFC). Over Twitter, the rivals took more shots at each other about a potential booking for UFC 217.

But according to White, Nurmagomedov is “not ready.

Nurmagomedov’s manager, Ali Abdelaziz, declined comment on the reasons why his client can’t take the fight. He said the plan is for Nurmagomedov to face the winner of Lee vs. Ferguson and then unify the title against champ Conor McGregor. But he cautioned “a lot of things can happen.”

Abdelaziz deflected Lee’s talk and predicted he will beat Ferguson at UFC 216, which takes place Oct. 7 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas.

“I think he should focus on Tony,”Abdelaziz said. “He shouldn’t even care about Khabib.”

Lee, meanwhile, believes making weight still is a problem for Nurmagomedov and dismissed his issues at the scale, which led to the cancellation of an interim title bout against Ferguson at UFC 209.

“I’m bigger than Khabib,” Lee said. “You stand me next to him – I’m 186 pounds right now, and I’m going to make the weight. I usually start at 188, 189.”

He also implied Ferguson is too big a threat for Nurmagomedov.

“Everybody knows – if you ask any fighter in this division, Tony is the toughest fight in this division,” Lee said. “Hands down. To me, he’s the real champ. You can say McGregor’s the champ, because he’s that on paper. But the man only has one fight. Tony’s got 11, 12? He’s already got double-digit fights in the (UFC’s) lightweight division.”

It’s that kind of challenge Lee said he’s pursuing as he fights his way to the title. Still, when it comes to the real pecking order at 155 pounds, he has no doubt where he stands.

“I’m (going to expletive) Tony Ferguson up,” Lee said. “There’s a reason why none of these dudes put my name in their mouth.”

For more on UFC 216, check out the UFC Rumors section of the site.

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Filed under: Featured, News, UFC, Videos
Source: MMA Junkie